WANDERLUST: crystal clear waters in europe

You know those turquoise waters you see in the Maldives, South East Asia and the Caribbean? Well, turns out you can find them a little closer to home, too. With this hot summer weather we're having lately, I just want to pack a bag and go!






A SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT PARTY


One of my closest friends got engaged a few weeks ago and when she told me she was coming down to London for the weekend, I knew I had to throw her a surprise party! I decided on a simple evening involving a few bottles of prosecco, crisps and cupcakes as I was actually going to Quill's Modern Calligraphy workshop the afternoon that she was arriving.

I invited our best girlfriends from school and that was that. But then, as always happens with me, I started over-thinking it; but what about dinner? Should we go out for dinner after? But then we'll be having cupcakes before dinner and that's weird. Maybe I'll do some canapés. Yep that'll work, then we can go out for dinner. I'll make a reservation somewhere. Oh, but what time will we be done with drinks..? You can imagine I really got myself into quite a tizzy! So in the end I decided to host the whole shebang at my house.





I've never really made canapés before, but I thought I'd give it a go. Lately I've been really into peaches and prosciutto, so I made these little bites with a couple of ripe peaches, basil and mint leaves and pearls of mozzarella. They are super easy and actually the fiddliest bit is cutting the peaches - after that, it's plain sailing!

We had lots of cold meat and olives and crisps (which a friend brought over after I'd taken these photos, hence the empty bowls you might have spotted!). I also made Siobhan's broad bean and pea dip which was SO delicious and everyone went crazy for it! The best part was that I made everything either Friday night or Saturday morning, so I just had to lay it all out before everyone came over in the evening. My friend was completely surprised, which was the best feeling, and it was one of those perfect evenings (fuelled by prosecco) that feels exactly the same as it did when we were all together 10 years ago!


Oh yes, and for supper I served Jamie Oliver's 30 Minute Meals feta and spinach pie, which I spooned onto puff pastry to make a crispy open tart. You have to make the tomato salad that goes with it. Delish!

A PHOTO FOR FRIDAY | 4

A single photo and a story from my week.


Do these things even have a name? Well, lately they've been popping up all over the place in fashion - Fendi said they were cool and suddenly they're now a thing. Trust me, you'll be seeing lots of these on the high street come autumn.

Well, I saw this little guy at work and instantly thought of my Canadian cousin. We used to spend long summers there visiting my mum's sister's family and he had tons of these, lining up on the windowsill, hanging out on the bookshelf and peeping out from goodness knows where else. I took this quick snap and tweeted him and then I just thought, isn't technology so wonderful; you can see something, send a picture to someone across the globe you hardly get to see anymore and they can see it and reply to you, all in the space of 5 minutes? My parents' minds would be blown if they had thought about this when they were my age (my mum's mind would probably still be blown - please get a camera phone Mum!).

Hope you all have a relaxing weekend - I can't wait to share some fun snapshots (and recipes!) from my friend's surprise engagement party next week.

VEGAN BEFORE 6

For a few months now I've been following the Vegan Before 6 diet. I don't mean to be a talking cliche, but it's changed the way I eat and the way I think about food, too. In 2012 I made a conscious effort to lose weight and, in order to maintain what I achieved, I started doing VB6 back in February.

The basic principle is that you don't eat any animal products until your evening meal. For me, this meant completely rethinking what I put into my body during the day (especially at work) and thinking carefully about what I eat at the end of it. I haven't actually read the book, so I think it's about time I did! But, in the meantime, here are a few things I've learnt (p.s. I feel amazing):

1. Dinner is not a 'cheat meal' - eating well during the day doesn't justify bingeing in the evening. I've found that as I've grown accustomed to eating vegan during the daytime, I'm not desperately hungry in the evenings, I don't crave red meat and I'm keen not to throw my efforts down the drain when faced with unhealthy options.

2. Vegan isn't always healthy - I wouldn't eat over-processed chicken nuggets, so there's no reason why I would choose to eat processed fake meats like tofurkey or fake bacon either. And chips, while vegan, don't make for a nutritious lunch either!

3. It's not as hard as I thought - no, it's not always easy, but I don't miss animal products as much as I thought I would! I have my morning porridge with soy milk, which adds a subtle sweet nuttiness and hummus easily replaces mayonnaise in a wrap full or roasted veg.

4. Build a vegan meal in the same way - I like to include lots of textures and big, chunky vegetables that I eat with a knife and fork so it doesn't just feel like I'm eating the same spoonful over and over again.

5. Take it easy - I'm never too hard on myself and if there's something I really want to eat, like birthday cake at the office, then I have some. If you're not going vegan for ethical reasons, then a bit of mayonnaise by mistake or forgetting there is parmesan in pesto is not going to cause too much of a problem.

The amazing images above are by Raw Vegan Blonde. I actually found her a few months ago on instagram and she created some recipes for me for. All of the recipes and beautiful fruit collages are on Harrods Style Insider, if you would like, and I'm excited to be working together on some salads going up in the next few weeks!

TRY THIS: 3 uses for rose water

Rose water is a popular ingredient in skincare as it is an anti-inflammatory and a rich source of antioxidants, but it is also an old favourite in cooking too. Widely used in the Middle East and India, the delicate, fragrant flavour lends freshness and depth to classic dishes - here are four ways to try it:


1.  Add it to drinks: a few drops* of rose water will lend a new twist to a glass of prosecco or lemonade. It also goes perfectly with strawberries and raspberries - try making a syrup by boiling a few drops with sugar, water and berries, then strain and add to cocktails or sparkling water.

2. Cupcakes love rose water: fold a few drops into buttercream icing for a subtle hint of flavour and garnish with an (edible - no pesticides!) rose petal.

3. Update your favourite dessert: whip rose water into cream for a new take on Eton Mess or add to warm desserts like rice pudding. Complement with a few crushed pistachios for a sweet that would make Ottolenghi proud.

*go easy with it - too much can taste a bit soapy. It's best to add gradually and taste as you go.

A PHOTO FOR FRIDAY | 3

A single photo and a story from my week.


Last weekend I spent a few hours cleaning out my wardrobe - I threw out a whole bin bag of worn out clothes, sent another big bag off to the charity shop and kept a few pieces aside for friends. I was knee deep in piles of clothes, dust flying everywhere and an even bigger mess than when I started and then, poking out from the very back of the wardrobe, I saw those familiar white flowers on their floaty blue background. I pulled the dress out of its hovel, laid it across my lap and smoothed its creases.

This dress must be as old as me. I remember my mum wearing it when I was little, specifically when we lived in New York. There are pictures of us in one of the horse carriages in Central park, that familiar blue fabric worn back then by her instead. I've never been one for vintage clothing - maybe there is a story behind it, but that story is no concern of mine. To me, this dress is different. I remember it being a dress for special occasions; for taking me to ballet recitals, but also for everyday occurrences; an after school treat at Serendipity or a barbecue at our country cabin in Pennsylvania. When I put it on I am so nostalgic for that time in my life and my mum's face every time she sees me wearing it is one of the best.

Do you have a meaningful piece of clothing? Maybe it belonged to your grandma, or maybe you bought it last week but it makes you feel like a million dollars - either way, I'd love to hear about it!

INSPIRING ICE CUBES


 Have you seen all of the fun ice cubes making their way around the internet right now? 2014 is definitely the year of the fancy ice cube! I was going to try my hand at making some over the weekend but I thought these were just too pretty to share! The stripy ones at the top are definitely calling to me - don't you think they look like dessert? {onetwothree}

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